Tag Archives: Sarilia Lifestyle

Checking in with our new neighbours

Matt and Amber moved into their new home at Sarilia last May. Now that they’ve had a chance to settle in, we thought we’d follow up with Amber to see how their lives have changed since moving here, and how they feel about life in the river valley. Our beautiful photos were taken at Sarilia by Julie Schappert Photography.

Sarilia trails and river

What makes life so different at Sarilia?
Number one is the sense of calm and peace that I feel being surrounded by nature. It may seem cliché, but moving out to the country has really transformed our lives. It seems like we take more time to sit and enjoy our surroundings and each other. Taking care of our home and the surrounding area has a little bit more pride and joy than it did in the city, probably because there are so many more possibilities with the space we have. There’s also the fact that when you’re home, you’re home. The distance may seem limiting to some, but I really enjoy the fact that when I’m here I’m not pulled to do some errand, I can just enjoy my home and my family without thinking that there’s some place else to be.

Were there any lessons learned during your home building process?
The main thing I learned was that it was helpful to have a clear vision of what we wanted our home to feel like, and then communicate that often. Our build was truly custom and we chose every single detail, but it’s good advice for whatever type of build you’re doing. Salespeople and sub-contractors are so much more helpful when you’re able to say, “my house is such-and-such style and we want it to feel ‘X’” (warm, quaint, modern, clean, rustic, etc.).

Also, I learned to stick to my guns and never be afraid to ask. As a woman making the vast majority of decisions I was lucky to have a very patient builder who would take the time to explain the process. I was able to make informed decisions and not back down when someone wanted to change my mind. Not everyone values the same things as you when they’re giving you advice about your home.

Aesthetics are important — so is functionality but I would remind myself that we are the ones who are living here so we had to prioritize what we wanted. A perfect example was the manufactured wood beams in our kitchen. They were an expensive custom touch and some people questioned me about them but I knew they would do so much to create that “feel” that we wanted. Now everyone remarks about how much they love them when they walk in!

walking dogs on beach

What kinds of activities do you do at Sarilia?
I’ve been up at the community garden often, weeding a lot as I’m still learning the ropes! We walk the dogs and go down to the beach. We’ve also taken a couple of bike rides to explore the area. Matthew went on a canoe trip down the river to Petrofka Bridge with some other community members. I’m looking forward to getting back into a regular running schedule now that the busyness of the move and summer is winding down.

Day to day, we’ve been working on our deck and our yard which we both enjoy. Now we can eat dinner outside or just sit out and enjoy a glass of wine. I’ve found that my free time is a little more “quality.” We watch less TV, and spend more time outside.

What is it like to be part of the Sarilia community?
I’m so happy and excited to be part of this community. Summer is tough to get out and meet people as most people are busy or away on weekends, but recently we’ve had the chance to meet some of the families that live here at a community get-together and we had an amazing time! I’m so excited to get to know the other residents. Dinners with friends, bonfires on the beach, our kids growing up together…I’m so looking forward to this at Sarilia.

What do your family and friends say when they visit?
I feel like when our family and friends visit, they get it. They get why we decided to move to the country when we’ve always been city people. The other day my mom was sitting on our deck and she said, “it’s just like being at the lake,” which is a big deal because our cabin at the lake is definitely the family “happy place.” They’ve also remarked on the sense of privacy that our well-treed lot provides. We have the best of both worlds — we can be out mingling with our neighbours while at the garden or on a walk, but we also have our little nook in our backyard which means that we’re not bothering anyone when we have company over.  The number one phrase I hear when we have company is, “it’s beautiful.” I have to say, I agree!

river walk at Sarilia

Birds of Sarilia

We love being surrounded by nature at Sarilia, and our diversity of feathered visitors is always a delight. Sarilia resident, Annette Horvath, took these gorgeous photos of blue birds, a swallow,  a yellow-headed blackbird and a bald eagle recently. They’re so beautiful you’d think they’re stock photos, but they’re 100% original, taken right here in our river valley community. Thanks Annette!

birds Sarilia


birds Sarilia



birds Sarilia birds Sarilia

birds Sarilia birds Sarilia birds Sarilia

Sarilia birds bluebird

Birds Sarilia

Female Bluebird

birds Sarilia

Birds Sarilia

birds Sarilia


Sarilia birds

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Sarilia birds eagle

Bald Eagle

Three of our favourite places to paddle in Saskatchewan

Our community here at Sarilia is made up of a lot of adventurous and outdoorsy people who were attracted to life in the river valley and all the perks that come with it — from the nature trails, to the beautiful beach and the North Saskatchewan River access. Many of us love to launch our kayaks and canoes here and venture out on the water. It’s a chance to stretch our limbs, breathe the fresh air and appreciate the incredible beauty of mother nature.

It’s this passion for paddling that inspired us to share three of our favourite places in Saskatchewan to row, row, row our boats – or paddle – gently down the stream.

  1. North Saskatchewan River at Sarilia Country Estates

    We’ll start off with tooting our own horn a little, but hear us out! The winding North Saskatchewan River is simply spectacular. When you launch at Sarilia you can paddle downstream as far as you like — all the way to Hudson Bay if you were so inclined! If that sounds a bit too taxing to tackle, a nice two-hour journey from the Borden Bridge to Sarilia is a soothing – yet stunning – 20 kilometre stretch downstream. You may even be greeted by a moose! We’re not kidding — last year we saw a moose swim across the river near Sarilia’s beach.
  2. Barker Lake

    Barker Lake, Saskatchewan

    Canoeing at Barker Lake

    Sarilia developer and resident Ronn Lepage says Barker Lake is his “favourite place in the whole world.” Every summer he organizes an epic trip with friends and family and sets up camp in the beautiful Canadian Shield. “It’s not just great canoeing, it’s great camping too,” says Ronn. There are at least 20-30 sites for camping, but Ronn recommends the beautiful Muchaye Island as a convenient base to take day trips from.

    To reach Barker Lake, you drive 80km past La Ronge to Missinipe. You can park your car at the Devil Lake campground and paddle to Barker Lake within one hour (including a short portage). There are a number of rapids to test your mettle, and it’s a great spot to cast a line. Ronn has spotted moose, eagles and pelicans on his trips, not to mention all the lush vegetation, flowers and Saskatoon berry bushes.Map of Barker Lake

    Whether you’re a beginner or a highly experienced paddler, Barker Lake has something for everyone — even music lovers. Every year Churchill River Canoe Outfitters hosts the Whitewater Festival on the last weekend in June. They bring in a band by boat and host an outdoor concert on Barker Island. Upwards of 90 passionate paddlers attend this festival each year, making it a great opportunity to meet and break bannock with others who share a love for the great outdoors.

  3. South Saskatchewan River – The Berry Barn to Downtown Saskatoon

    Canoeing Saskatoon

    Canoeing from the Berry Barn to Downtown Saskatoon

    If you don’t have a full weekend to spare, a fun, leisurely half day on the water starts with launching at the Berry Barn and paddling about 20km to Downtown Saskatoon. If you don’t own a kayak or canoe, you can rent one from Eb’s Source for Adventure. Plan to kick off your day early so you can take a break on one of the sandbars just south of downtown by noon. The sandbars are a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch. The dock at the Saskatoon Rowing Club on the river’s left bank is a simple spot to disembark. Keep your eyes peeled for beavers! We’ve seen some well fed ones on the islands you’ll paddle past on this route.  

So there you have it – three great options for getting out on the water this spring and summer. Where is your favourite place to paddle?

Meet the Neighbours – Part Three

What better way to kick off a new year than to introduce two of our newest soon-to-be neighbours – Zee and Sofia. Although their house isn’t built yet, we can’t wait to welcome them to our river valley community. Friendly, energetic and outdoorsy, this lovely couple will fit right in here at Sarilia.

Sarilia owners

What was it that made you decide to start looking for a new place to live?
We’ve never owned our own place (we were renting as we were students). We recently finished school and decided to stay in Saskatchewan. What better way to appreciate the natural beauty of Saskatchewan than in the river valley.

Where are you both from originally?
Zee is originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sofia is from San Salvador, El Salvador.

How did you hear about Sarilia?
We have family living in Battleford so we tend to drive out there quite often taking Highway 16. One day, while driving down the highway, Sofia spotted the advertisement in front of Langham and decided to look it up online. Once she visited the website and explored a bit, it caught her attention. A few weeks later we decided to visit the area.

What was it about Sarilia that made you decide to buy a lot and build your home here?
As soon as we began going down the hill to Sarilia, we felt a sense of calmness, peace and serenity. We were warmly invited by Gwen and Ronn to visit their home and talk about the type of community Sarilia is. The community is surrounded by very likeminded people. Anyone who loves the outdoors would easily be attracted to the natural beauty of Sarilia.

Who are you building with/or buying an RTM (ready-to-move) from?
We will be building a NetZero RTM. We haven’t decided from what company yet but we really like the way Zak’s homes look. They do a very good job of creating a modern home with a lodge look and feel.

What are you most looking forward to about living in the river valley?
We are really looking forward to being able to come home and walk the dogs down the valley trail and to the river. It is a very relaxing/therapeutic walk. We’re looking forward to being able to do many outdoor activities like canoeing, snow shoeing, cross country skiing and camping right around the community.

Tell us something about yourselves…
My real first name is Zlatan but everyone knows me as Zee. I am a former U of S Huskie and Medicine Hat basketball player. I am a physical education teacher and Sofia will be an elementary school teacher. Sofia and I immigrated to Canada in the 90s with our families. We are getting married this summer. Sofia has always been in outdoor clubs and loves spending time outside.


Meanwhile Back at Mama’s

My kids and I send each other songs all the time. My son Evan just sent me this song, with a note about how it made him think of Sarilia. The song, Meanwhile Back at Mama’s, is beautiful. My kids call me Mama and I’m thrilled that Evan thought of family and Sarilia when he listened to it. I think it will resonate with a lot of people – that feeling of nostalgia for the home you grew up in, or maybe visits to your grandparents’ house. Have a listen, and let us know what memories it stirs up for you.
– Gwen



Q & A with Gwen Lepage

GwenGwen Lepage isn’t just Sarilia’s property developer. She and her husband, Ronn, have made Sarilia their home. You could easily add several more titles to her name – community builder, Pilates teacher and gardener, to name just a few. We sat down recently to chat about Gwen’s life at Sarilia, how she builds community and her transition from city living to making a home and building a village in the river valley.

What do you like best about life at Sarilia?
What I like best is how I feel living here. I have hopped around different subdivisions in Saskatoon for about 40 years but I can easily say that I am the happiest I have ever been at Sarilia. I’ve always had a craving for space, solitude and calmness. My life at Sarilia strikes a good balance between satisfying that craving as well as the pleasure that comes from living in a place where I feel I belong. I like that everyone knows everyone in the village and that we are good neighbours and friends. I feel safe.

I enjoyed living in city but I didn’t have that same sense of “being home.” I also like being close to nature even though my kids say I’m getting a little koo-koo pants because I talk about the two eagles we have, the baby fawns that stroll through our yard, the bunnies that live at the end our lane and the coyotes that howl at night. Our lifestyle is more relaxed now and I like that we have way more time to spend with family and friends.

If you weren’t a developer and community builder, what would you be doing?
I would most likely be an interior designer. I like the process of envisioning, planning and breathing life into a space that is both reflective of someone’s personality and lifestyle, as well as being functional.

You used to live in Saskatoon. What was the transition like when you moved from the city to the river valley?
I was surprised that it took me about six months to settle in. At first, I found myself driving back into the city every day – trying to keep on living my old lifestyle on Broadway. My husband calls me his “go-back girl” because I dislike change. I liked going to my favorite coffee shop on Broadway and that they knew how I liked my coffee. I liked walking over to Las Palapas for fish tacos on Tuesday, sitting on the deck and drinking wine with friends. I liked biking everywhere. I missed the things I used to do in the city.

After six months, I started to remember who I was and what I wanted. I grew up on an acreage in rural Saskatchewan and that lifestyle slowly began to unfold again. Now, I have a huge patch in the community garden, I make my own salsa from the garden and we sit on our own deck overlooking the river, eating nachos and drinking wine with our friends. My husband and I drink our coffee in the screen porch so we can watch the wildlife. I walk everywhere. I play guitar with my friends, watch some pretty amazing sunsets and am a big fan of stargazing. I guess that’s why we call it a lifestyle change because your life and the things you do on a daily basis are different. These days, I schedule all my appointments together so I only have to go into the city twice a week – driving in the city stresses me out!

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?
I am a certified Pilates trainer and I love teaching. I teach two free classes a week to any Sarilia resident that has willingness and desire to learn. We do Pilates in my living room, on the deck and down at our beach. I am learning to play guitar, which has been a goal of mine for a long time. I enjoy a good read and of course, gardening with the Sarilia ladies.

Sarilia is well known for its sense of community. Can you tell us how you’ve built such a strong sense of community?
I think it comes from my desire to make or build something authentic and the ability to attract like-minded people to our community, most of whom have a rural background as well. I am blessed to have so many residents who are what I call “the village-builders.” They give freely of their time and talent to build decks, river trails, and gardens. Whatever we need, they find it, give it or build it. Life in the river valley is good.







Meet the Neighbours – Part Two

In the second installment of our Meet the Neighbours series, we’re happy to introduce you to Amber and Matt. They’re in the process of building a custom home here in the river valley and we can’t wait to welcome them home to Sarilia!

Amber and Matt

Where are you both from originally?
Matthew and I both grew up in Saskatoon.

What was it about Sarilia that made you decide to buy a lot and build your home here?
So many things! First of all, the beauty of the place. The landscape is such a wonderful mix of prairie, hills, treed lots, and then the river. Having grown up in the city, and always having loved the access the city provides to entertainment, shopping, restaurants, etc., it was going to take a very special place to get me to build outside the city.

To me, Sarilia provides the peace and beauty that comes from country living, but with the community and neighbours that protects from that feeling of isolation I think I would have on an acreage.

Also, Matthew and I were not looking for a property that required the type of upkeep that some country/rural lots require, considering that we both work. On top of this, we feel that it is close enough to the city that we can handle the commute quite easily. In fact, I find that the drive out to Sarilia after a long day at work helps me to unwind and relax.

The cost of the lots at Sarilia compared to how much lots cost in the city means that we can build a home that we’ll love, and not have to sacrifice because of an expensive lot. Another major reason was that when we visit, we feel a real sense of community. We can’t wait to finally move out there and meet all of the neighbours.

Who are you building with?
We are building with a company called CNS Developments, who is doing a custom build with us. Curtis Mann, the builder, has been amazing and very accommodating. We’re very happy with him.

What are you most looking forward to about living in the river valley?
Waking up every day surrounded by such beauty! Matthew and I really value our downtime outside and our time with friends and family. I can’t wait to entertain out on our deck with the sun setting over the river valley! We currently don’t have children, but I can’t wait to one day raise our children out there. I love the idea of kids being able to play outside in the woods and the fields, discovering nature or wandering around and riding their bikes with the other kids in the neighbourhood and not having to worry about busy streets. I love that we’re going to live in a community where we know everyone.

What activities do you both enjoy?
We love riding our bikes and going for walks. I love to cook and bake. Right now I have summers off because I work in the school system, so I spend as much time as I can up at our family’s cabin at Nesslin Lake where we fish or just go out on the boat. Other than that, on weekends we spend a lot of time socializing with friends and family. Every Sunday we get together for supper with my family. I can’t wait to be able to host and have them out to our new home.

Tell us something about yourselves…
I’m a counsellor in the school division, which is a new job since I graduated with a master’s degree from the U of S. Two things that I never thought I would do in my life would certainly be working in the school system and living in the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that last year brought both of those things into my life!

Matthew and I have also made a promise to ourselves that we will make travel a priority in our lives. My favourite trip that we have gone on is our honeymoon, where we flew to Portland and then rented a car and took a road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway for two weeks, ending in San Francisco.



Acreage and country living: Is it right for you?

The following article ran in the summer 2014 issue of Saskatoon Home magazine, and quoted Sarilia’s developer, Gwen Lepage.

Sarilia Country Estates sunset

Sundown at Sarilia

Developers outside Saskatoon are redefining what it means to live in the country. With easy access to amenities and a focus on community building, they’re finding a new set of buyers looking to trade in their slice of the city for wide-open spaces and starry nights. If you’re considering such a move, there are several questions you should ask yourself before placing a deposit on that pastoral piece of property.


What can you afford?
Aside from the lot price itself, there are often upfront and recurring costs to consider. Depending on the location, these can include fees for garbage and recycling pick up, septic services and water delivery. You may also need to factor in infrastructure costs such as holding tank installation and/or digging a well. Some developments have community association fees and some do not. You’ll want to consider what RM (rural municipality) it’s located in, what the tax base is, and if there are any development fees. 

What kind of lifestyle are you looking for?
Gwen Lepage, developer of Sarilia Country Estates, says buyers should start with why.“Why do you want to change where you live? What is going to be different after you make this move?” She adds, “My clients aren’t just shopping for a new house. They want a lifestyle change and that doesn’t mean hopping around the city from one neighbourhood to another. They want something else: a view, space and a sense of community. Quite often my clients have a rural background and have a strong desire to go back to a place that feels like home.”

What nearby amenities do you need?
A family with school-aged children will want to know the proximity to the nearest schools, and if school bus service is provided. Darren Hagen, developer of Grasswood Estates, says that Grasswood’s location is what appeals most to his property buyers. “We offer country living with modern city amenities just minutes away,” he says. “There’s a school within walking distance and the shops and services of Stonebridge are just five minutes north.” Aside from typical amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies, many buyers will want to know if there are nearby recreation facilities, trails or water access. Both Grasswood and Sarilia offer trails and water access, so they tend to attract nature lovers and outdoor adventurers with their opportunities for snowshoeing, hiking, biking and canoeing.

What are the local bylaws?
If your big move involves raising chickens, buying a horse, a boat, or taking up snowmobiling, you’ll want to look up the local bylaws of the RM the development is located in to ensure your plans are all above board. Zoning bylaws are set out by each municipality, which divides the land into zoning districts. Each district may have its own regulations specifying the size, location, dimension and types of buildings allowed, the provision of parking spaces, outdoor storage and landscaping.

What kind of house do you want to build?
Gwen recommends that property buyers avoid finalizing house plans until after they’ve settled on a property. “Maximizing an incredible view and ensuring privacy may well dictate the size and style of your house and will become a more important consideration than the actual floor plan or style,” she says.

If you have a style and size of house in mind, you’ll want to ask the developer about any architectural design standards that might be in place. Such standards are created to protect the value of the development and the homes within it. The standards may regulate factors such as the size, design, height and footprint of the home, landscaping, outdoor storage, setbacks, lighting, and whether pools or hot tubs are permitted.

What compromises are you willing to make?
Often when we think of the country, we picture a bucolic, peaceful retreat from fast-paced urban living. Rural life can be idyllic, but just like living in the city, there are certain realities you’ll need to carefully consider.

If moving from an urban area, one of the biggest changes may be the amount of yard work involved. Some developments keep the landscaping all natural, while others will require frequent maintenance. You’ll need to ask yourself if you’re willing to invest in a ride-on mower and devote the time to maintain those wide-open spaces.

If the move involves a longer drive to work, it’s a good idea to get in your car and test out the commute during peak and non-peak hours. Once you’ve tested it, you’ll have a better idea if it’s an acceptable, comfortable commute. If so, here’s hoping those country roads will soon take you home to the place you belong. – Saskatoon Home


Questions to ask property developer



© 2014 Saskatoon Home magazine

To read the original version, click here.